The Pet Sematary Scene That Even Hardened Horror Fans Always Skip

There's so much to love about Mary Lambert's 1989 classic Pet Sematary. It's a full-fledged bonkers blockbuster horror film with a screenplay written by Stephen King that still holds up decades after its debut. The minds behind the movie beat multiple instances of creative pushback from the studio to make their vision come true — did you know that Paramount didn't want Fred Gwynne to play Jud because they were worried that he was too closely associated with Herman Munster? The filmmakers had to fight for him, and the results speak for themselves. Sometimes, Fred is better.

The gruesome visuals of Pet Sematary, meanwhile, just keep holding sway. The movie's use of practical effects makeup combined with the King-brand emotional trauma inherent in its characters offers viewers a peanut-butter-and-chocolate combination of waking nightmares for the ages. But if you ask the horror fans currently using Reddit as a virtual horror audience survivor group therapy session, one sequence takes the cake, to the point where some of them are even willing to admit that they skip the scene in question on repeat viewings. It's not the kid or the world's worst cat or even the car crash victim.

It all comes down to Zelda, you see. The haunting, creeping, guilt-ridden Zelda of it all.

Pet Sematary's Zelda soured the ground for horror fans

A quick refresher, in case you skipped this part, too. One of Pet Sematary's main protagonists, Rachel (played by Denise Crosby) has spent her entire adult life carting around some heavy baggage with regard to her late sister, Zelda. Zelda was born with spinal meningitis and, as a result, had a unique look and some immense personal needs. Rachel grew up caring for Zelda, even being left alone with her medically at-risk sibling from a young age.

That was the homelife scenario that led Rachel to grow resentful of her sister and resulted in her eventually witnessing Zelda's untimely death and then running through the neighborhood laughing with relief. It was a haunting experience — eventually literally, as Rachel would be lured into a death trap by the specter of her dead sibling. The scene is especially unsettling thanks to Lambert's decision to cast stage actor Andrew Hubatsek in the part of Zelda, giving the character an extra layer of physical weirdness.

More than 30 years later, fans are still talking about Zelda's scenes in Pet Sematary. Reddit's /r/horror forum is full of testimonials — "This is the scariest part of the movie to me. I had nightmares about the sister," writes one user. "Zelda is without a doubt the most horrifying scene not just in this film but period! Remember flipping through the tv as a child and running across Pet Sematary right at the Zelda scene ... horrified for weeks!" added another.

Between the psychological horror elements of the plot and the unearthly physicality brought to the role, Zelda's legacy in Pet Sematary seems unlikely to stay dead.